Score two victories for energy/environmental advocates in Indiana

February 26, 2015 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor. 

In a rather surprising moment in the annals of Indiana legislative politics, Hoosier safe energy and environmental advocates had two big victories at the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday 2/25/15.Benton County web

First it was announced by Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, Brian Bosma that the nefarious House Bill 1320 would not be presented to the entire house as Bosma pulled it from floor action on the final day for it to be read and heard.

Soalr panelsThe Bill, supported only by Indiana’s Investor Owned Utilities would have essentially stopped solar and other “distributed” renewable energy proposals from being built since a penalty would have been charged for those consumers who wanted to generate their own electricity but still had to rely on the wired grid to either place their excess generation or for purchase when their own systems did not work due mainly to a lack of sunshine or wind.

Second, a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR12) to amend the Indiana Constitution called the Right to Farm was surprisingly defeated 28-22 by the whole Senate. Opponents of the dubious measure called it the “Right to Harm” amendment since, had it passed, would have made it really difficult to enact any new ordinances, laws or rules designed to safeguard Hoosier air, land and water from even rogue agricultural interests. Corn rows Tas

Both of these victories were due to dogged opposition from grassroots Hoosiers who organized and fought hard for the last few months to correct the misinformation the Indiana Electric Association had given lawmakers about the defeated proposals. Valley Watch, and our partners, Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana NAACP, Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, Hoosier Environmental Council and others worked in concert with numerous alternative energy businesses to achieve this hard earned victory. Valley Watch tips our hat to everyone who made calls and contacted their representatives about these onerous bills.

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Indiana, Kentucky near the bottom of Gallup “Well-Being” Index

February 19, 2015 – by Dan Witters in Gallop.comIndiana Flag scream

Alaska residents had the highest well-being in the nation in 2014, reaching the top spot for the first time since Gallup and Healthways began tracking well-being in 2008. West Virginia and Kentucky rank 50th and 49th, respectively, for the sixth consecutive year. Hawaii and Colorado are on the top 10 list of highest well-being states for the seventh consecutive year.

States With Highest Well-Being in 2014States With Lowest Well-Being in 2014

Alaska rejoins the top five in 2014 after being among this elite group from 2009 to 2011, while Hawaii finished in the top two for the sixth time, improving from the eighth spot in 2013. North Dakota tumbled from the top spot in 2013 to 23rd in 2014. North Dakota’s drop was mostly attributable to a drop in its residents’ overall life evaluation, coupled with worsened health-related behaviors such as higher smoking rates, reduced exercise and less healthy eating compared with 2013.

All of the 10 lowest well-being states in 2014 have frequented this list in the past.

These state-level data are based on more than 176,000 interviews with U.S. adults across all 50 states, conducted from January to December 2014. The Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest possible well-being and 100 represents the highest possible well-being. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score for the nation and for each state consists of metrics affecting overall well-being and each of the five essential elements of well-being:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Gallup and Healthways have been tracking well-being since 2008 and updated the Well-Being Index in 2014 to provide a more comprehensive measure of well-being. The Well-Being Index scores for 2014 are not directly comparable to the scores from prior years because they are calculated using the revised instrument and scoring methodology. However, state rankings for 2014 can be compared to rankings from previous years.

As in prior years, well-being in the U.S. exhibits regional patterns. The Northern Plains and Mountain West are higher well-being areas, along with some Western states and pockets of the Northeast and Atlantic. The lowest well-being states start in the South and move north through the industrial Midwest.

Well-Being Index by State (Map), 2014 Continue reading

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NASA reveals new video of the Sun – Breathtaking

February 11, 2015 – by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

In honor of SDO’s fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

The imagery is an example of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths – and therefore different temperatures – scientists can watch how material courses through the corona, which holds clues to what causes eruptions on the sun, what heats the sun’s atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the sun’s magnetic fields are constantly on the move.

Five years into its mission, SDO continues to send back tantalizing imagery to incite scientists’ curiosity. For example, in late 2014, SDO captured imagery of the largest sun spots seen since 1995 as well as a torrent of intense solar flares. Solar flares are bursts of light, energy and X-rays. They can occur by themselves or can be accompanied by what’s called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, in which a giant cloud of solar material erupts off the sun, achieves escape velocity and heads off into space. In this case, the sun produced only flares and no CMEs, which, while not unheard of, is somewhat unusual for flares of that size. Scientists are looking at that data now to see if they can determine what circumstances might have led to flares eruptions alone.

Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The program’s goal is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society. Continue reading

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Hooray for the first flower of 2015

February 11, 2015 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editorIMGP0004

For the last three days, I have spent some time outside the Valley Watch office looking to the ground for signs of new life. This morning was no exception. And lo and behold, there in its glorious white beauty was the first Crocus of the season. I look forward to the lavender, white and purple crocus each year as a sign that Spring is just around the corner. Today’s sighting confirms just that. Hooray for Spring! Photo © 2015 BlairPhotoEVV

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against TVA over coal plant closing

February 10. 2015 – by Dave Flessner in the Times Free Press

The TVA "Paradise" power station located in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, on the Green River near Central City is one of the dirtiest power plants in the nation and adds to the unhealthful air quality of SW Indiana and W. Kentucky. Two of its units are being replaced by a series of combined cycle natural gas plants which should significantly improve the region's air. This is a file photo © 2012 BlairPhotoEVV

The TVA “Paradise” power station located in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, on the Green River near Central City is one of the dirtiest power plants in the nation and adds to the unhealthful air quality of SW Indiana and W. Kentucky. Two of its units are being replaced by a series of combined cycle natural gas plants which should significantly improve the region’s air. This is a file photo © 2012 BlairPhotoEVV

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the coal industry against the Tennessee Valley Authority that tried to block TVA’s plans to shut down two of the three units at a Kentucky coal plant.

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley said TVA didn’t violate federal rules in the way it decided to replace the oldest coal-fired generation at the Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky with a new combined-cycle natural gas plant.

The Kentucky Coal Association and a group of landowners near the Paradise plant sued TVA in July, claiming that a full environmental impact study was required for a new gas-fired plant to be built to replace the 55-year-old Paradise units. TVA conducted an environmental assessment, but the plaintiffs claim TVA failed to follow its own rules for the more extensive environmental impact study of the new gas plant. The plaintiff’s called TVA’s decision “arbitrary capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

But McKinley rejected such claims and ruled that through its integrated resource plan, environmental assessment and public hearings, TVA had met its standard for a decision on the coal-fired plants.

“The court’s ruling affirms that TVA took the proper considerations into account in making this important decision for the people of the Tennessee Valley,” TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said today.

Brooks said TVA is in the early phases of construction of the combined-cycle gas plant at Paradise, and is moving forward with the permitting process. TVA will continue to operate one coal-fired unit at Paradise.

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FutureGen – A two decade long failure finally bites the dust. Another coal plant down the tubes.

February 4, 2015 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor. Editor’s note:Valley Watch did not directly oppose FutureGen in either of its forms. We did however, closely monitor its progress and design in keeping with our stated purpose which is “to protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio River Valley.”

This was a rendering of the original concept of a zero emissions plant called FutureGen. This project was  first proposed in the second Clinton administration. This month, the Department of Energy scotched plans for the ill fated plant.

This was a rendering of the original concept of a zero emissions plant called FutureGen. This project was first proposed in the second Clinton administration. This month, the Department of Energy scotched plans for the ill fated plant.

I first heard about FutureGen at an Indiana coal conference in the Fall of 2000. Clinton was still in the Whitehouse and was proposing a project designed for “zero emissions.” The man from the US Department of Energy spoke glowingly of how coal could be used to generate electricity and emit nothing, zero, nada.

Of course, it required federal government funding to the tune of at least $1 billion and a “private” match of about 25%.

Zero emission coal plants were a dream of the coal industry, which, even at that early date were faced with looming prospects of several new health based rules designed to control the multitude of voluminous emissions that result form coal being burned in a boiler, the conventional method of electrical generation. Sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, a variety of toxic emissions including mercury and the main climate change culprit, carbon dioxide were all soon to be subject to emissions cuts in order to make burning coal a safer alternative.CCS

As the new century wore on, some of these rules were implemented, causing significant increases in the cost to burn coal. And. climate change science was maturing to the point that a consensus had formed that climate change was man made and beginning to cause geophysical and climate problems across the globe.

In, 2004, I had a conversation with Sierra Club’s Bruce Nilles regarding how we should approach FutureGen. I helped convince him that the economics of the proposal were so bad that we (Sierra and Valley Watch) should not oppose its development. My theory was that it would become so expensive both to build and to reach its objective of zero emissions that it would die of its own weight and we could show that we did not oppose government experimentation with new tech.

FutureGen promoters stopped calling it zero emissions around 2004 and began referring to it simply as near zero emissions since they know there was no way they could operate a coal plant without emissions. Continue reading

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Duke’s Edwardsport Boondoggle: Overpaying and Underperforming New Report: Coal Gasification Plant not “lowest cost” or “clean”

February 3, 2015- News Release from Citizen’s Action Coalition, Save The Valley, Sierra Club and Valley WatchBIRD WO ADDRESSbevelsm

Hearings begin this Wednesday at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to determine who should pay the unbelievable costs associated with Duke Energy’s newest power plant, the problem-plagued and scandal-ridden Edwardsport IGCC plant in Knox County, Indiana.

The coal-gasification plant has now been operating for just over 18 months. Duke initially promised the plant would cost $1.9 billion, but the price tag has since ballooned to over $3.5 billion. Additionally, the plant has experienced significant construction delays, equipment and operational failures, and multiple start-up problems, adding to the already excessive price tag.

Just as Duke failed to build Edwardsport on time and on budget, a new report by Sommer Energy LLC on behalf of Citizens Action Coalition, Sierra Club, Save the Valley and Valley Watch displays that Duke has also failed to deliver a plant that operates as promised since Duke declared the plant “in-service” in June of 2013.

Duke claimed in October of 2011 that: “The plant’s high efficiency means that it can turn fuel into energy at a lower cost; in fact, at the lowest cost on our system.” As demonstrated in the report, neither of those statements have proven to be even remotely true. Since Duke placed Edwardsport “In-Service”, it has only been able to convert one quarter of its fuel into electricity, for an efficiency rating of 25%. This is a far cry from the 36% Duke promised and the 33% average efficiency that Duke’s coal fleet achieved in 2014. Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 3.38.17 PM

As a result of these and other problems with the plant, over the period from June 2013 to March 2014, the plant’s costs were 876% higher than if the power had been purchased on the market. Duke Indiana operates in the MISO marketplace where the cost of market purchases over the same period was $33.5 per MWh while Edwardsport came in at a whopping $327.03 per MWH.

Another bogus claim made by Duke Energy Indiana in October of 2011 was that “Edwardsport will be among the cleanest coal plants in the world and will be well positioned for any anticipated new environmental rules.” The truth of the matter is that among coal plants in the U.S., while Edwardsport did have the 9th lowest rate of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emissions, the plant was only 86th in NOx (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) and ranked an abysmally high 323rd in CO2 emissions.

The high rate of CO2 emissions means that Edwardsport is not “well positioned” to meet new environmental rules. In fact, Edwardsport would make compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new CO2 rules much more difficult and far more expensive, costing ratepayers an additional $88 million per year according to the report.

The IURC has the power to compel Duke to bear all of the additional costs outlined in the report, as well as the potential future EPA compliance costs. The IURC is prepared to hear about these and other issues related to the operation of Edwardsport. The outcome of that hearing will either provide ratepayers relief from these excessive costs or mean that customers will have to pay them for years to come.

Evidentiary hearings are scheduled to begin Wednesday February 4th at 9:30 A.M. and will be held in Room 222 at the PNC Center located at 101 W. Washington St in downtown Indianapolis.

The full report is available upon request and can also be found here:

http://www.citact.org/sites/default/files/Overpaying_and_Underperforming_Edwardsport_IGCC_02-03-15.pdf

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Who You Gonna Believe About Smog’s Health Hazards, the Oil Lobby or Doctors & Scientists?

January 29, 2015-By John Walke, Clean Air Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

An oil industry lobbying group just released a paper that inadvertently reveals the bankruptcy of Big Oil’s attacks on the health basis for more protective national standards for smog pollution. The 8-page paper contends that legions of doctors and scientists are wrong when they say that current smog standards need to be strengthened to protect Americans’ health.

gas maskThe group is called Energy in Depth, which media outlets have rightly characterized as an “oil and gas industry public relations front group.” It was founded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and its funders include BP, Chevron, Shell and Halliburton. The paper is the latest sputtering salvo in Big Oil’s crusade to fight the U.S. EPA’s proposal to strengthen outdated health standards for smog pollution.

EPA projects that strengthening today’s smog standard of 75 parts per billion to a level of 65 parts per billion will avoid nearly 1 million asthma attacks among children, 1 million days when kids miss school, 2,300 cases of acute bronchitis among children and over 4,300 premature deaths–every year. Medical groups and many others believe the standard should be strengthened to 60 parts per billion based on strong scientific evidence of continuing harm at 65, and the law’s directive to protect vulnerable populations like the elderly and children with an adequate safety margin.

It has long been a problem for the oil lobby and other polluting industries that they have no credible evidence to counter the mountains of scientific proof and independent, expert scientific consensus that (1) the current smog standard is unsafe, and (2) the standard needs to be updated to protect all Americans. Numerous medical organizations, including the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association and American Thoracic Society, have said the current smog standard is unsafe and needs to be substantially strengthened to protect Americans.

So Big Oil turned to its own front group to put its best case forward, in an attempt to contradict those medical experts and the enormous health benefits. And that oily case is pitiful. Continue reading

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Cap and Dividend makes economic and logical sense

January 15, 2015 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor. Editor’s note: This was written in response to an Evansville Courier and Press opinion piece by one Robert Adams that appeared in the Courier & Press on January 7, 2015.Melting globe

I am surprised the CourierPress gave Robert Adams (ECP 1/7/15) nearly the whole editorial page to rail against a bill that made it no where after House passage in 2009 and has not seen the light of day since. Retroactive paranoia, perhaps. And of course. Mr. Adams postulates all the evils he perceived in that bill as destructive to the capital system but seemed to understand little about its purpose or design.

What was missing in the fifty inch column was any acknowledgment of the consequences we are likely to suffer as a result of severe and minor alterations of the Earth’s climate. To Adams, it matters little that great numbers of both animal and plant species will succumb, nor that huge human populations will be displaced as sea levels rise. Or, he doesn’t seem to care about drought and wildfires or flooding and super storms. And, what about the precipitous increases in everyone’s Homeowners’ insurance that will result? Do these things not matter to Adams?

Cap and Trade is The capitalist response to carbon pollution. It sets up new markets for the capitalists to engage, not the other way around.

But, C&T is not the way to go. Instead, a carbon tax paid on each pound of CO2 used and refunded to all, equally is the real answer. That way, people who want to waste energy are not restricted from doing so, it will just cost them. Meanwhile, those who conserve energy will benefit by a nice “check in the mail” to cover and likely exceed any increase in energy cost attributable the tax. That is called “Cap and Dividend.” Any financial harm of such an assessment will be borne only by those who mindlessly waste fossil energy.

Meanwhile, renewable energy is here now and competitively priced. Its wide spread advance will create a greatly improved and cleaner economy as we transition from carbon. Efficiency measures will continue to improve as the climate stabilizes as  will climate refugees. Translation: lots of new jobs.

If we do not take the necessary steps to counter this crisis, consequences will be dire and our children and their children will be just pitiful pawns in a morbid game the fossil industry demands for our future.

In the end, why are so many “conservatives” so unwilling to conserve?

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New Congress Prepares to Take Away Your Right to Clean, Safe Air

January 13, 2015-by John Walke, Air Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

The Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on legislation that would take away Americans’ longstanding right to clean, safe air based on health and medical science. The legislation is called the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, and it would force the Environmental Protection Agency to set unsafe health standards for air pollution, after factoring in cleanup costs to polluting industries.

Indianapolis Power and Light's Petersburg power plant as seen from Interstate 69 in 1/6/15. Photo© 2015 Steve Higgs

Indianapolis Power and Light’s Petersburg power plant as seen from Interstate 69 in 1/6/15. Photo© 2015 Steve Higgs

The legislation marks an extreme departure from the health foundation of our federal Clean Air Act. Since its adoption in 1970, the Clean Air Act has required EPA to set national health standards for air pollution (like smog and soot) based solely on what health and medical science shows to be unhealthy air quality. Setting these health standards provides the very definition of “clean air,” and it guarantees Americans the right to air that is safe to breathe.

The Regulatory Accountability Act would take away this right and eliminate the Clean Air Act’s health centerpiece. The bill does so by directing that EPA shall consider cleanup costs by polluting industries when defining clean air and telling Americans whether the air is safe.

The legislation requires all federal agencies carrying out all federal rulemakings to consider costs to regulated corporations “notwithstanding any other law.” Legislative drafters use this phrase when they want a law (here, the Regulatory Accountability Act) to take precedence and reign supreme over any other otherwise applicable law. So, embedded within the Regulatory Accountability Act is a radically sweeping alteration of scores of federal laws governing clean air and clean water, food safety, investor protections, civil rights and on and on. I doubt the legislation’s co-sponsors even have a complete list of all the federal laws that their bill would supersede.

From the beginning, the Clean Air Act has required EPA to base clean air health standards exclusively on health and medical science. The Supreme Court upheld this requirement in a unanimous ruling authored by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, siding with the Bush administration EPA. The Court wrote that EPA may not consider the compliance costs to polluting industries when deciding whether the air is safe to breathe. Clean, safe air means adopting health standards based on medical science, not politics or compliance costs or other non-health factors. Health standards must be strong enough to protect all Americans’ health, with an adequate safety margin for vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and asthmatics. The Regulatory Accountability Act would overturn that Supreme Court decision and radically weaken our Clean Air Act. Go to Original

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Happy Holidays form valleywatch.net

14 VW Christmas Card final

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Amory Lovins and Richard Branson join forces to mitigate climate issues

Lovins 2

Amory Lovins speaks at an Indiana University Kelley School of Business symposium in Indianapolis in 2007. Photo © 2007 BlairPhotoEVV

December 18, 2014 – by Jules Kortenhorst, CEO and José Maria Figueres, chairman of the Board, Rocky Mountain Institute. Editor’s note: Amory Lovins is the founder of RMI and in my mind is the guru of energy futures throughout the world.

The stark impacts of climate change are visible seemingly everywhere—from the devastating Pakistan floods in 2010, to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, to the drought and wildfires in California and Australia this year. The world’s experts say these events are becoming more severe, causing annual losses of $200 billion—a quadrupled toll in thirty years. Humankind is almost certainly on a path to cross the 2-degree-Celsius threshold most climate scientists agree we must stay below to forestall the worst effects of global warming.

We need an energy revolution now. Which is why the alliance between Carbon War Room (CWR) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—two leading NGOs working on market-based solutions for a clean economy—is so crucial. There is a unique window of opportunity to accelerate the energy transformation to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future for us all. As an alliance, RMI and CWR can build on our historic results, and focus on amplifying our impact beyond the sum of what we can do independently. Continue reading

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Merry Christmas from a Beijing Flash Mob Chorus and Valley Watch.

December 15, 2014- by FMCtaiwan, via the universal language of  YouTube

Valley Watch wants to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers and supporters the best of holiday seasons and a successful 2015. We hope you enjoy this inspirational video from a Flash Mob Chorus in Beijing.

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Ten Things You Need to Know if You Burn Wood

December 1, 2014-by Josh Schlossberg in the Biomass Monitor

woodstove_smoke_0Wood heating is on the rise. 2.7 million U.S. households, making up roughly 2% of the population, are projected to burn wood as a primary heating source over the winter of 2014-2015, a 3.9% increase from the previous year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Approximately 7.7% of households use a wood or pellet stove as a secondary heating source, based on 2012 census data.

In every state except for the balmy locales of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Hawaii, wood heating has increased over the last decade, largely due to lower costs in comparison to oil and local sourcing opportunities.

Despite some recent advances in stove technology, wood heating still involves combustion, a process that emits air pollutants that have been linked to various health concerns. With the recent uptick in residential and industrial wood burning, it’s in the public’s best interest to be mindful of the risks that come from stoking up the stove.

1) Respiratory Problems

Residential wood burning “greatly increases” the amount of particulate matter (PM) in the air, pollutants smaller in diameter than a human hair, that can lodge deep inside the lungs, as well as enter the bloodstream and organs. Exposure to particulate matter can result in “aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, non-fatal heart attacks, and premature death,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). PM can also trigger emphysema and strokes, with children, the elderly, sufferers of lung and heart disease, and those of lower income at highest risk.

A study by the California Air Resources Board reported that “wood smoke can cause a 10 percent increase of hospital admissions for respiratory problems among children, who are at most risk since their lungs are still developing.” Particulate matter can harm lungs during only a four hour exposure and cause even greater damage over the long-term.

The chance of premature death is 17% more likely in cities with high particulates compared to those with cleaner air, with every increase of 50 µg/m3 (microgram per square meter) of PM into the air resulting in a 6% spike in deaths and 18.5% increase in hospital admissions results, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health. In some cases, up to 90% of PM pollution can come from residential burning, with wood smoke regularly responsible for half of the California Bay area’s winter PM pollution.

Other health concerns related to wood smoke include “irritated eyes, throat, sinuses, and lungs; headaches; reduced lung function, especially in children; lung inflammation or swelling; increased risk of lower respiratory diseases; more severe or frequent symptoms from existing lung diseases.”

Health costs related to wood smoke particulate matter in the U.S. have been estimated at up to $150 billion a year.

2) Carcinogenic 

Despite wood’s natural origin, wood smoke includes known carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), with studies demonstrating that wood smoke can cause lung cancer. Continue reading

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“Unbridled Consumerism…will have serious consequences for the world economy,” Pope Francis

November 6, 2014- Pope Francis, from the Vatican

To the Honourable Tony Abbott
Prime Minister of Australia

On 15 and 16 November next in Brisbane you will chair the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the world’s twenty largest economies, thus bringing to a close Australia’s presidency of the Group over the past year.  This presidency has proved to be an excellent opportunity for everyone to appreciate Oceania’s significant contributions to the management of world affairs and its efforts to promote the constructive integration of all countries.SNN1604P--620_1728824a

The G20 agenda in Brisbane is highly focused on efforts to relaunch a sustained and sustainable growth of the world economy, thereby banishing the spectre of global recession.  One crucial point that has emerged from the preparatory work is the fundamental imperative of creating dignified and stable employment for all.  This will call for improvement in the quality of public spending and investment, the promotion of private investment, a fair and adequate system of taxation, concerted efforts to combat tax evasion and a regulation of the financial sector which ensures honesty, security and transparency.

I would ask the G20 Heads of State and Government not to forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions, and it would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle.  Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists.  In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.   Continue reading

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